The Six Essential Factors in Choosing a Dog

When choosing a dog there are a number of essential factors you need to consider in order to find a dog that best suits you and your home. Here are six esstential factors to take into account.

Your Lifestyle Match

Many people make impulse choices based on how cute a dog is, but the main factor to consider is what kind of lifestyle you live. If you are a homebody and a sedentary person, you will not want to consider a sporting or hunting breed. If you are an avid runner, you will want to steer clear of English Bulldogs or toy breeds and choose a dog, such as an Australian Shepherd that has a high energy level like you do. If you are not getting a dog from an animal shelter where professionals can help you make a match, consider asking yourself what type of lifestyle you live and research breed characteristics to see if you are the right match for the dog.

Puppy Versus Adult

Puppies take a lot of work and usually far more than the average person is ready for, which is the reason that most animal shelters are full with 1-2 year old dogs that received little exercise and training and as they grew to adult size, became too much for their family to handle. Puppies will be puppies for over a year and should only be left alone 4 hours at a time, so unless you plan to have a caretaker or have a work schedule that is flexible, you may want to consider an adult dog.

Adult dogs are a good choice for people who want to skip the puppy steps, such as housebreaking, teething/chewing, nipping, jumping and high energy level. There are millions of adult dogs at animal shelters that are there for no fault of their own (i.e foreclosures, new baby, loss of job, allergies) and often transitions to a new family are fairly easy. Adult dogs are a good choice for most any type of owner but be sure to learn about the history of the dog if possible to make sure the dog is a good fit for you.

Pick a Dog Based on Size

When you are considering a dog, you need to consider the age and thus the full-grown size the dog will achieve. Renters should be aware of any weight limitations at the complex they rent from. Also, consider your physical abilities when thinking about dog size. Even the best trained Great Dane may manhandle an elderly owner or small children. Conversely, a toy Chihuahua of 1 pound is probably not the best dog companion for a young child or a large canine companion.

Cost of Certain Dog Breeds

All dogs cost money from dog food to veterinary fees to leashes, collars and toys. However, smaller dogs tend to cost less as they eat less and spay/neuter surgeries depend on the weight of the dog, making the smaller, the better. Consider a St. Bernard male can weigh 220 pounds and feeding a dog daily of that size will require 8 cups of food per day. And life is a little bit more planned out when you need a vehicle to transport that size of a dog, a crate to fit him, and larger size bowls, collars, leashes all cost more than those for smaller breeds. Regular, frequent grooming is required for many small and some large breeds, so consider this when assessing costs.

Pick a Dog Who Will Be Healthy

If you are considering a purebred dog, beware that most purebreds have innate health issues, some more than others. German Shepherds are prone to hip dysplasia and flat-faced breeds, such as pugs, boxers, and English Bulldogs all suffer from breathing issues, bad teeth, and cannot tolerate excessive heat. If you choose to buy from a breeder, make sure to meet the parent dogs and see their vet records. Similarly, if you adopt from an animal shelter, there should be detailed vet records and a possible medical history from a former owner. In general, mixed breed dogs are healthier as any breed specific health issues are watered down in their genetics.

Where to Get Your Dog

There are many choices of where to get a dog. There are millions of unwanted dogs sitting in animal shelters around the country. More than 30% of these dogs are purebreds and adoption fees are often much less than you would see at a private breeder. Mixed breed dogs also have many advantages of being physically unique, healthier, and often make wonderful pets. If you'd like to buy from a breeder, consider contacting the American Kennel Club for reputable breeders in your area. Pet stores often have puppies for sale but be sure to ask the Manager where they receive their pups from and ask to see that facility, as many are from puppy mills. The Internet is another valuable resource for finding the perfect dog.

Choosing a dog should be a thoughtful and detailed decision as this is a lifetime commitment. Make sure you make an educated choice and if done so, you can expect many years of companionship and love with your new dog.